Pied Wagtail

Pied Wagtail

This bird is very appropriately named. It does indeed wag its tail and is similar in this respect to the North American Spotted Sandpiper. The word “pied” means “having 2 or more different colours”.

Pied Wagtail

After Rooks and Jackdaws, Pied Wagtails were the most common bird that I saw in a 2 week trip to Ireland. It is an almost exclusively British bird with just a few nesting in Northern France and Holland.

Pied Wagtail

People sometimes call them Willy Wagtail or Polly Washdish. Long ago people here washed clothing or pots and pans near streams, a favourite habitat for the wagtail,  and gave the bird this name.

Pied Wagtail

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Kent says:

“Spare my grey beard, you wagtail,”

The poet John Clare wrote:

Little trotty wagtail, he went in the rain.

And tittering, tottering sideways he near got straight again.

Pied Wagtail

Wagtails are just as happy on mountain tops as in city centres.

Pied Wagtail

Wagtails nest 2 or 3 times during the summer.

Pied Wagtail (immature)

Pied Wagtail (immature)

Although almost exclusively insectivorous, some wagtails show a liking for cake crumbs according to a birder that I met.

Pied Wagtail

Miles Hearn

 

 

 

 

 

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